Pangumbahan Turtle Park, Ujung Genteng

Surprising sunset and sea turtles conservation are two highlights at Pangumbahan Beach, one of tourism spots in Ujung Genteng, southern coastal in West Java, 220 km away from Jakarta. In this site, the coastal area is clean and still shady with big coconut trees, making it ideal for sea turtles to lay their eggs because they tend to avoid barren and dirty areas. Most of the sea turtles often spotted here are Chelonia mydas, which can grow up to 1.5 meter length and weigh up to 300 kg.

These sea turtles are highly sensitive to any means of disturbance while laying their eggs during night time. At once, the sea turtles can lay 100-200 eggs although this can be halted if they sense threats or disturbances. Therefore, Pangumbahan Beach has to be isolated from residential area. The track heading to this place is quite extreme thus an off-road vehicle is preferred. It is best to use car with high ground clearance.

The ideal time to come to this area is in the afternoon, when the little turtles are usually released to the sea. During those time, visitors will have the chance to talk to the officers in charge regarding anything related to the breeding of sea turtles in the park. Visitors can also donate some money for this conservation efforts. By doing so, visitors will get the privilege to have a personal experience of releasing those ‘donated little turtles’ into the sea, along with the rest of the colonies.

The iconic scene of these baby turtles crawl into the big vast ocean is indeed a remarkable episode. Although sometime the waves sway them back to the beach, these tiny creatures will not stop trying to face the waves until they swim freely in the ocean. In addition, amazing sunset in the background will complement the beautiful scene. The combination of shades of clouds tinged with yellowish sun will be a pleasure surprise that is so worth to wait.

3 Things about Tana Toraja

Toraja is strongly attached with tradition related with funeral and its ceremonies. Located in the northern part of South Sulawesi, Tana Toraja highland is the home for Toraja indigenous group that still preserve and apply their ancestors’ heritages. Wander around Tana Toraja, visitors’ eyes will definitely be fascinated by at least three things: the houses, the tombs and the ceremonies.

The traditional house of Toraja is called Tongkonan, which means a place to gather. It functions as the center of Torajan life and embodies the connection between them and their ancestors. Its huge roof is shaped like buffalo’s horns and dominated by red, black and shades of brown. The house is made of bamboo and woods and it has solid construction although still uses traditional woodworking joints. All Tongkonan are facing north because, for the Torajan, north represents life.

Aside from the challenging work of building Tongkonan, the Torajan also build marvelous tombs for the deceased. For adults, they carve graves on unthinkable places such as on a side of rocky cliffs or gigantic stones where they will lay or hang the deceased bodies. On each grave, they put Tau-Tau, a puppet representing the deceased. Meanwhile, there are also hanging graves for babies. They were hung using ropes on a cliff or tree and kept for years until the ropes rot and these graves fall to the ground.

Last, but not least, Rambu Solok, the burial ceremony that is impressive especially in terms of scale and festivities. According to the Torajan, death is not an occasion for sorrow. It is a notable milestone in life that is as joyful as birth. Therefore, funeral is regarded as celebration that involved everyone related to the deceased because it reinforces the eternal bond between the dead and the living. In this society, instead of wedding, funeral marks a family’s status. This funeral ritual can be attended by many people and lasted for days, depending on the social status of the deceased, and it certainly requires major fund. Water buffaloes really play an important role of the tradition in Toraja as they represent wealth. A certain type of water buffalo can even be bought with a price of an SUV. The number of water buffaloes slaughtered during this ceremony indicates the social level of the deceased. The animals are sacrificed to accompany the spirit of the deceased during their journey to the land of the dead.

These preserved heritage of tradition and local wisdom, regardless of the hustle and bustle of external pressures, indeed make the life of people in Tana Toraja admirable. Their efforts to sustain such cultural wealth are reflected in the infrastructure development where roads, tourism spots, public facilities and electricity are provided to strengthen the traditions instead of to eliminate them. Various means of transportation to Tana Toraja are available from Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi equipped with an international airport, making it easy for everyone to visit and experience this wonderful highland.

The Marvelous Landscape of Molo

Not many people know Molo, a rich area managed by indigenous people in the southern part of Mutis Mountain Sanctuary, Timor Tengah Selatan, Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). The area possesses abundant valuable mineral resources including marble, manganese, gold, oil, gas and many more. One indigenous tribe, Molo, lives in the upstream, while the other indigenous tribes; Amanuban and Amanatun, live in the downstream area.

Unlike the stereotype of NTT that is often perceived to have dry lands, this area is highly fertile and thick with primary forests. Many native biodiversity reside in this eastern part of Indonesia including various birds, butterflies, forest honey, sandalwood and the unique homogeneous forest of Ampupu (Eucalyptus urophylla) that can only be found in Mutis Mountain. It also holds a prominent role as water catchment area since at least three watersheds and 13 rivers are flowing from the mountain to water many areas in Timor Tengah Selatan.

Having a beautiful pretty landscape and super friendly people, this area holds high potentials of tourism that are is still left untouched. High marble mountains and thick-dark-green forests laying under the blue sky reinforce the remarkable scenery in Nausus, one of the peaks in Mutis Mountain where people can capture all of these heavenly view. Green grasses over the pretty lines of Eucalyptus forests seem to invite everyone to gather, camp, play guitar, set bonfires and to sip some ginger tea.

People with excessive adrenaline who love to go on challenging journeys would certainly love Molo. It is one of the most exotic and untouched places in Indonesia. The area can be reached in 2-3 hours by using public land transportation from Kupang to Soe, and another 2-3 hours trip uphill usually by using ojek (motorcycle taxi). One note need to be taken; don’t forget to bring along a sleeping bag, or even take some friends and loved ones to cuddle with, as they will help preserve body heat. It’s cold outside and it’s getting extra colder during the night. However, stargazing on a clear night will be rewarding since people can literally see all the stars in the sky from the marvelous Molo.

Belitung Island

Belitung, an island about 380 km north of Jakarta, is an emerging area that quickly established its position as a most-visited destination, especially after the publication of a best-seller fiction novel, Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors). The novel, written by a native Belitung young man Andrea Hirata, tells about an inspiring struggle of underprivileged elementary school students in the island. What actually exists in the island is far beyond what is stated in the novel.

The place is a natural beauty with its rocky and white sand beaches that are exceptionally unique, spread across the main island and in nearly two hundred surrounding small islands. Belitung island has Tanjung Binga classic pier where the fishing boats are docking. Seeing the dramatic sky while fishing in the wooden pier can indeed be a relaxing moment. Still in the main island, Tanjung Tinggi is a must-see spot due to its gigantic granite rocks and clear white-sand beach.

What should be boldly printed in any Belitung itinerary is islands hopping. Rent a small boat then go to some highlighted islands such as Lengkuas Island, Kepayang Island and other unnamed small islands nearby. The main island itself is best explored by renting a car. Altogether, Belitung is very suitable for group trips. Don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses, sunblock and snorkeling gear. Both the upper and underwater views are amazingly pretty and worth every penny.

Belitung is now a heaven for beach-lovers, sunrise and sunset-seekers, photographers and anyone who enjoys beautiful landscapes. Considering its relatively cheap flight (around USD 80 return) and short distance (less than an hour flight) from Jakarta, the place can surely be an appealing option for a long holiday or a quick getaway.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan truly is a heaven on earth, one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Indonesia. Located in northwest of Lombok Island, it is the biggest of three small islands. The other two are Gili Meno and Gili Air.

The common way to go to the three Gilis is by boat from Bangsal Harbor at Lombok Island. The journey from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan takes around 45 minutes. An interesting fact about the island is that motor vehicles are prohibited by the local government. So, to go around the island, tourists are encouraged to use a cidomo (horse cart), renting a bicycle or simply walk. Despite being the largest of three islands, Gili Trawangan is still considered as a small island, therefore walkable.

Must-do activity in Gili Trawangan is snorkeling or diving. It is to be noted that the underwater current between the Gilis (gili means island in local language) are quite strong. Thus, the risk is big, but the reward is worthy. The visibility is great and divers/snorkeler can find various types of underwater creatures, including sea turtles.

Another must-do activity is enjoying sunset at the ‘Sunset Bar’, a nice wooden installation on the beach where people can sit and enjoy the sunset with great Mount Agung as background.

When the night comes, people gather in the restaurants along the main road where the locals offer all kind of foods – traditional and western. The special and recommended menu is, of course, seafood. Satisfaction is guaranteed as the fishes are fresh and the sauces are delicious. Every night at Gili Terawangan is a festive night, where people from all around the world get together to sip the taste of heaven on earth.

Curug Cikaso

Ujung Genteng is one of the popular tourism destinations in the southern coast of West Java. It is about 170 km (105 miles) from Jakarta. Most people came here to enjoy the beach, but it has more than that. There are also a river and a waterfall in the area.

Curug Cikaso (Curug means waterfall), a 50 meters (160 feet) high waterfall, is located in the inner part of Ujung Genteng. This place is well known for photographers as they often wouldn’t hesitate to explore the waterfall’s landscapes carrying their tripod and wide angle lenses to take pictures with slow-speed effect. Other than breathtaking scenery, people can also jump to the water, swim under the waterfall and embrace the splashing fresh water above you. Very refreshing!

Another activity that people can do there is to ride a boat and go along Cikaso river to see the natural life there.

Breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sound of nature, including the waterfall, can really recharge the most exhausted mind and soul.

Ciater Tea Factory

Ciater highland is located at the north side of mount Tangkuban Perahu, West Java (PS: Peep Indonesia will tell you the love story of Tangkuban Perahu legend later on). Here, visitor will find a large spread of tea plantation. The cold temperature, green landscape and very nice local people turns Ciater into one of favorite local tourism destination.

Aside from walking around the plantation trees and sightseeing, tourists can visit the tea factory managed by a state-owned company named Perkebunan Nusantara VIII. There, accompanied by a tour guide, visitors can see the production process of tea; from fresh tea leaves until the packaging. As tea lovers, visitors might want to ask hundreds of questions. Please do. The tour guide will be more than pleased to share his/her knowledge: the A-to-Z of tea.

During the visit, visitors will learn that the production process of tea was not simple. It consists of several steps where some of the works involve big machines. Not all are handled using machines, because some important works still need professional and personal human touch, especially the ones related to quality of the products. It was not a fancy factory, but notice that quality control was done in every step of the process. This is the main reason of why the factory were supplying some famous tea products in the market.

A combination of high quality tea leaves, the skillful hands of the workers and the help of traditional and modern machines produce first quality tea products.

At the end of the visit, visitors can try a cup of tea produced by the factory; a warm pleasant taste of tea – not just in your mouth, but also in heart and soul.

Tidung Island

‘Peace’ might be the first word comes to mind when visitors make the first step on the island. Just 3 hours boat trip from Jakarta, lie two beautiful islands: Tidung Besar (besar means big) and Tidung Kecil (kecil means small). The two islands, connected by a two kilometer wooden bridge, are one of the most favorite holiday destinations in Indonesia – especially because it is not far from Jakarta. It’s perfect as a weekend getaway spot for busy people from the nation’s capital city.

The sea around the islands is very calm, perfect for beach activities. The underwater is amazing, perfect for snorkeling. Other than water activities, visitors can also rent a bicycle to circle the islands or walk along the bridge. The islands and the bridge offer breathtaking scenery and amazing sensation of walking ‘on’ the sea.

One day might not be enough the explore all the beauty that these islands possess. Not to worry, because the islanders are ready to provide a home-stay experience. Staying overnight will also give the chance to see sunrise at Tidung Besar and sunset at Tidung Kecil, and don’t forget the beautiful starry night on both islands.

Aside from tourism activities, the islanders were working on mangrove plantation to sustain the islands’ ecosystem. If interested, visitors are most welcome – and even encouraged – to join the program.